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Mathew Joseph Zachariah was told as a child that he had an allergy to plastic. As an adult, Zachariah learned his mom was allergic to plastic. Wanting to spare her son the adverse allergic reaction she experienced, an overabundance of caution was exercised. Zachariah is not allergic to plastic.

"How ironic that now I own a plastics recycling company and create art with post-industrial plastics," he says.

Zachariah is a scientist who one day took notice of the colors in his product. After 28 years in the recycling business, for the first time, he saw the processed orange safety cones, red auto tail lights, green city trash bins, and clear blue water cooler bottles in the form of shavings, pellets, and re-grinds as a tool and not a product. Maybe it was the result of moving from Flint, Michigan, to Memphis and living among creatives in Crosstown Concourse for the past two years.

Mathew J. Zachariah’s plastics become art. - COURTESY OF MATHEW JOSEPH ZACHARIAH
  • Courtesy of Mathew Joseph Zachariah
  • Mathew J. Zachariah’s plastics become art.

However it happened, Zachariah has been creating mosaics with his product. He talks about his art in industrial terms — HTPE and nylon 66. Then, he suddenly stops.

"I've realized that art is emotional," concedes Zachariah, who says he's learned to speak differently about his art. "And not just for the observer. It's therapeutic for me. My hand has been on every piece, placed with love on the canvas giving my product a second life."

Meet Zachariah online or in person for an artist talk on Friday. Be sure to ask about the hidden images in his art.

Artist talk for Mathew Joseph Zachariah, Jay Etkin Gallery, 942 Cooper, and online from Jay Etkin Gallery Facebook Live, Friday, November 6, 5-7 p.m.

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